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In the Garden of Beasts

Love, Terror, and An American Family in Hitler's Berlin
Larson, Erik (Book - 2012? )
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
In the Garden of Beasts
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Erik Larson, New York Times bestselling author of Devil in the White City, delivers a remarkable story set during Hitler's rise to power. The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America's first ambassador to Hitler's Nazi Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history. nbsp;nbsp;nbsp; A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. At first Martha is entranced by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich with their infectious enthusiasm for restoring Germany to a position of world prominence. Enamored of the "New Germany," she has one affair after another, including with the suprisingly honorable first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels. But as evidence of Jewish persecution mounts, confirmed by chilling first-person testimony, her father telegraphs his concerns to a largely indifferent State Department back home. Dodd watches with alarm as Jews are attacked, the press is censored, and drafts of frightening new laws begin to circulate. As that first year unfolds and the shadows deepen, the Dodds experience days full of excitement, intrigue, romance--and ultimately, horror, when a climactic spasm of violence and murder reveals Hitler's true character and ruthless ambition. nbsp;nbsp;nbsp; Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period, and with unforgettable portraits of the bizarre Göring and the expectedly charming--yet wholly sinister--Goebbels, In the Garden of Beasts lends a stunning, eyewitness perspective on events as they unfold in real time, revealing an era of surprising nuance and complexity. The result is a dazzling, addictively readable work that speaks volumes about why the world did not recognize the grave threat posed by Hitler until Berlin, and Europe, were awash in blood and terror.
Authors: Larson, Erik, 1954-
Title: In the garden of beasts
love, terror, and an American family in Hitler's Berlin
Publisher: New York : Broadway Paperbacks, [2012?], c2011.
Edition: 1st pbk. ed.
Characteristics: xviii, 448 p. :,ill., maps ;,21 cm.
Notes: "Originally published in hardcover in slightly different form in the United States by Crown Publishers ... in 2011"--T.p. verso.
ISBN: 030740885X
9780307408853
Statement of Responsibility: Erik Larson
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. [423]-434) and index.
Subject Headings: National socialism. Germany Social conditions 1933-1945. Historians United States Biography. Diplomats United States Biography. Dodd, William Edward, 1869-1940.
Topical Term: National socialism.
Historians
Diplomats
LCCN: 2012376328
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Jun 19, 2014
  • barkylee15 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

I am not sure that I enjoyed the way in which Larson wrote the book. Too much detail at times, (like way too much), and at others not enough about the people that I found most interesting. I also expected more suspense at the end of each chapter (even though I know it's not a novel), but instead it just fell flat in those parts. A very interesting book to discuss though, and overall I liked it. I just wish he would have given us more of the following years that the Dodd family was in Berlin, instead of just 1933-1934.

Jun 06, 2014
  • Eosos rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

The story of Ambassador Dodd and his daughter Martha in 1933 Berlin is fascinating to say the least.

The politics of Berlin at the time was very volatile and no country was particularity interested in the reports coming from the ambassadors. Despite the increasingly restrictive laws for Jews and the incease in violence against them and anyone opposing the Hitler regime, no country publicly condemned them. The United States refused to even issue a travel advisory and the tourists didn't get to see the bad undercurrents, always bring home reports of how eveything was wonderful. No one wanted to believe that Germany was rearming.

This was a great personal story of a man not like the other ambassadors, he had no experience and very little money at a time when most ambassadors were independently wealthy. His reports on the happenings in Berlin were largely ignored and even he who lived there, didn't see all that Hitler was doing.
The story of Martha Dodd is more salacious. Her many affairs and initial love of the Hitler regime made her notorious, both then and now. Her eventual disillusionment in Hitler and embracing of communism made for even better gossip and led to her living outside of the US for most of her life.

I really liked this book but while I love the era and politics, this story had just a bit too much of the sensational. Especially when it came to Martha and her life, which makes sense as even by today's standards she would be a gossip columnists dream come true.
It is a good look at history from the point of view of a family who lived it and well worth the read.

really interesting view of 1930s Germany. Frightening portrayal of the 'pulse' as hatred came to a full boil.

Jan 27, 2013
  • msevinrud rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

Have to agree with Michelle - just could not wade through all the non-relevant drivel. Made it more than 1/2 way but had a stack of books that seemed way more interesting so just quit reading. Was disappointed as author had been recommended to me.

Dec 17, 2012
  • susarrey rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Excellent book, exceedingly well-researched and well-written as we've come to expect of Larson. I consider myself to be a bit of a history buff and had already heard of Martha Dodd, but the details of Ambassador Dodd and his family's experiences in Germany were fascinating.

Dec 17, 2012
  • llwboston rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

This was a disappointing read. I was expecting a compelling narrative along the lines of Larson's Devil in the White City. While he does gives us a vivid portrait of daily life in Berlin in the first years of the Nazi regime, I wish he had focused on more interesting people, especially Americans in Berlin who were challenging the accepted view of the regime. I did learn some interesting history,such as the "trial" against the Nazis in Central Park, and the plot to try to overthrow Hitler. But there are some loose ends, such as what happened to the family in the ambassador's residence after the ambassador left? It's as if Larson focused on the least interesting person at the center of these events.

Nov 24, 2012
  • sdsmith12 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Erik Larson's books make history come to life through fascinating stories. This story is no different. Larson gives the reader a view through the eyes of the Dodds inside Hitler's Berlin. I felt that this book was a lot more detailed than The Devil in the White City. Mr. Dodd and his daughter Martha kept journals about their daily lives in Berlin. A lot of the information in this book is pulled from this. I enjoyed every bit of it and highly recommend.

Oct 05, 2012
  • lisastitch rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

An interesting perspective on Hitler's rise to power, which held my interest, even on a second reading. I am not fond of Larson's style, but would recommend the book.

Sep 30, 2012
  • wstone1023 rated this: 1.5 stars out of 5.

ZZZZ.
Couldn't even finish it. Way too detailed. I was just shy of half way through when I gave up. Very interesting story, but painfully descriptive.

Aug 06, 2012
  • BlueHippo rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Another great book from Mr. Larson. An absolutely fascinating look at the lives of these people in the run-up to WWII. The only thing I would have lied is a little more detail on exactly WHAT it was that Margaret did for the Soviets. Maybe there is no more info than what he presents.

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